Honoring a mother’s legacy through a gift to LBBC
Lilly Bolen, 19, is a sophomore at Tufts University, just outside Boston. Her mother, Lauren, served on Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s board of directors. To honor Lauren’s memory and her connection to LBBC, Lilly organized an event at her school that raised more than $3,800 for Living Beyond Breast Cancer.
Lilly was in sixth grade when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Lauren was very private about her diagnosis and treatment, Lilly remembers, but she found the network and support she needed through Living Beyond Breast Cancer.
When Lauren was diagnosed with stage IV, or metastatic, breast cancer several years later, she found that source of community again in LBBC. Throughout her treatment, Lauren continued to serve on the board, helping us develop messages that would grow our reach to the people who need us. Lauren died a few weeks after Lilly graduated high school in 2017.
When Lilly returned to Tufts for her sophomore year, she was one of two people on the women’s basketball team to participate on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. At the first September meeting she proposed a Play for Pink event, a day of athletic events to raise money for a breast cancer organization by collecting donations and selling t-shirts and raffle tickets.
Lilly chose Living Beyond Breast Cancer as the recipient. “My mom always admired what LBBC does,” Lilly says. “She thought that LBBC gives real one-on-one, individual support for people who were in the process of treatment and then even after treatment. Research is important, but also supporting those who are going through a really hard, difficult illness is what she thought was really great.”
Lilly had never organized a fundraising event. “I had no idea how much money we’d raise, but I knew that any amount does help. So I wasn’t afraid of trying.”
During the planning, Lilly worried about burdening others with what she needed. But she found that communicating and delegating tasks made the work easier and more fun. “So many people want to get involved. I had a lot of people that were very happy and willing to help me out.” The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee was very supportive and gave her the funding needed to put on the event. And in addition to the support from her school community, her dad helped as well.
Lilly hadn’t planned it, but the event was scheduled on Tufts’ Parents and Family Weekend. “My mom wasn’t there. And last year it was a really hard day for me, and it will probably be for the next two years. But having that purpose and running around, and doing it for a cause I knew she would be proud of, was an amazing experience and made the day a lot easier,” Lilly says.
Lilly plans to continue the Play for Pink event until she graduates. After, she hopes the event will go on. “Living Beyond Breast Cancer gives support and services and offers a community and network for people who are looking for a family,” she says. “It’s a great and well-run organization by people who really care about what they’re doing.”
You can host a DIY fundraiser like Lilly did. Check out our website if you need help or inspiration. Or if you would like to make a simple year-end donation to honor or remember a loved one, you can go here.